Next Event: February 17 - 19, 2023 (Virtually)

Meet The Trainers

JenniferWilkov

Jennifer S. Wilkov

Multi #1 Best-Selling Author, Podcast Host, Producer, Creative Consultant, Journalist & Media Pro at Your Book Is Your Hook!

Jennifer S. Wilkov is a #1 international best-selling award-winning author, an award-winning freelance writer, a popular media personality and executive producer, the Literary Agent Matchmaker™ and a respected book & business consultant in her business called “Your Book Is Your Hook!” She is also a blogger for books for the Huffington Post, and a columnist for the award-winning magazine PUBLISHED and Book Marketing Magazine. She supports first-time writers, seasoned authors, screenwriters and playwrights with the essentials to become a bestseller: a great project, a strong platform and a well-polished pitch, presentation and hook for their books or projects. She educates and assists them with the writing, marketing and getting published/produced processes (traditional with an agent, self-publishing and e-publishing for books / traditional and non-traditional film/tv/theater) for their book ideas and film/tv/theater projects as well as the building of their platform to raise their visibility to readers, the media, Hollywood and beyond.

Jennifer runs the Writers Group for New York Women in Film & Television. She continues to passionately teach and educate writers at the Writers Guild of America, New York Women in Film & Television, as a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts in New York, as a speaker at writers conferences, industry events and for groups, and teaches online for writers’ resources such as Writers Digest, The Writers Store, and others.

Jennifer is also the creator and producer of The Next Bestseller™ Weekend Workshop, a safe space that provides 12 fortunate writers each year with exclusive access to the dream team of industry professionals to help you prepare and practice your pitch and presentation BEFORE you have to talk about it to the professionals and others.

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Kelly Thomas

Poet and Associate Agent at Serendipity Literary Agency

Kelly Thomas brings seventeen years of sales and business expertise to the literary world as a champion for writers. Kelly is a Certified Copy Editor who has a Bachelor's degree in English (Literature) from Pace University. She is an associate member of the Association of American Literary Agents (AALA) and a member of the Editorial Freelance Association. Prior to joining Serendipity, she provided manuscript analysis for the D4EO Literary Agency. She is a panelist for the New York Women in Film & Television’s (NYWIFT) ‘The Business of Adaptations Panel’ program and a trainer for the ‘Next Bestseller Workshops.’ Kelly has participated in Pitch Slams for writing conferences, including ThrillerFest, Crimebake, and The Writer’s Digest Conference. She has sat on ‘Ask the Agent’ panels for the AWP Conference and Writing Barn’s ‘Courage to Create’ program and a ‘First Pages Critique’ panel for the Carnegie Center for Literary and Learning’s Books-in-Progress Conference. Kelly is a published poet with publications in Tales for the Disenchanted (2008) and Penumbra Art & Literature (2015). She has served as an editor for the literary arts magazine Pen & Brush and as a writing coach for the academic consulting company Brattlestreet. Kelly works as a freelance editor and ghostwriter in her free time.

What She's Looking For:
Kelly considers herself a generalist who is drawn to lyrical writing and strong voices. She is interested in nonfiction (narrative nonfiction, memoirs, true crime, self-help, business, travel writing, photography, medical, STEM, psychology, health and fitness, music, food & drinks, cooking) and adult fiction (psychological thrillers, suspense, comedies). She enjoys working with musicians, television personalities, athletes, and other pop culture figures to help translate their stories or expertise onto the page. She also represents children’s books including picture books, middle grade, and young adult. She enjoys fast-paced, plot-driven fiction with twists, turns, and jaw-dropping moments. She is drawn to stories about leadership, overcoming adversity, and beating the odds. Stories that are told from a unique psychological vantage point are always of interest. The truth is often stranger than fiction, so Kelly is actively looking for the next great true crime manuscript with a murderous and methodical plot. She loves multi-layered protagonists who struggle between what is right and wrong, and anti-heroes who are villainous but endearing at the same time. Some of her favorite books that perfectly master this include Dearly Departed Dexter, You, American Psycho, Fight Club, Psycho, Interview With a Vampire, Dracula, and My Sister, the Serial Killer.

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Lane Shefter Bishop

Hollywood Producer at Vast Entertainment

LANE SHEFTER BISHOP is a multi-award-winning Producer and Director who has received numerous accolades for her work including an EMMY and the DGA Fellowship Award for Episodic Television. Currently Ms. Bishop is the CEO of Vast Entertainment, THE go to book-to-screen company since in an online interview, CNN dubbed her “The Book Whisperer” of Hollywood.

Ms. Bishop has numerous projects, both completed and in active development including: Producing Feature Films, THE DUFF for CBS Films & Lionsgate and ASSASSINATION GAMES for MPCA (both based on books) as well as Producing, Directing and Showrunning the Backdoor Pilot for TV Series, HOPETOWN for Hallmark Channel (based on the ‘Blessings’ books by Beverly Jenkins) and THE DARK DESCENT OF ELIZABETH FRANKENSTEIN for Sony Pictures Television and Tristar (based on the Kiersten White novel).

Ms. Bishop has also been Executive Producing and Directing Christmas Movies for UPtv and Superchannel including THE HOLIDAY SWITCH [in prep], CHRISTMAS ON THE ROCKS [in prep], and A VINTAGE CHRISTMAS [in dev] (all based on the Melissa Hill novels), MISTLETOE & MOLLY, SECRET SANTA, and CHRISTMAS BENEATH THE STARS (based on the Melissa Hill novel) as well as numerous Thriller Movies for Lifetime including THE TRYST (in post), MYSTERY IN PARADISE (in post), DESPERATE WIDOWS (also written by Ms. Bishop), HIS SECRET MARRIAGE (also written by Ms. Bishop), HE KNOWS YOUR EVERY MOVE, WICKED MOMS CLUB, BLOOD SWEAT AND LIES and THE CHOKING GAME – which was the third most viewed program on television the night it premiered. Ms. Bishop also Directed the Streaming Movie A BROTHER’S HONOR, an African American romance for Passionflix (based on NY Times bestselling author Brenda Jackson’s uberpopular novel).

Ms. Bishop holds a B.A. in Literature from UC Santa Barbara and an M.F.A. in Production from USC's School of Cinema/Television. She is a director-member of the Directors Guild of America and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

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Lindsay Roth

Author, Television Producer and Owner of RIZ Productions

Lindsay Jill Roth has created, developed and produced a wide variety of award winning linear and digital programming globally. At Carlos Slim and Larry King's ORA TV and Stick Figure Studios in NYC, she produced Emmy Nominated Larry King Now, and Executive Produced Emmy Nominated Haylie Duff's Real Girl's Kitchen (which she created for Ora and Cooking Channel), Catching Hell (NBC), Queen Bee and Queen Boss (BET Network). Founder of RIZ Productions (offices in London and New York City), Lindsay has produced a wide variety of projects for clients and platforms including IBM, US Open, The Masters, Grammy Awards, Tony Awards, Pebble Beach, Jason Beauty, Green Chef, ESPN Fantasy Football, Guinness World Records, Nokia, Facebook Live, Facebook Watch. She graduated from Northwestern University's School of Speech and Medill School of Journalism. Her novel What Pretty Girls Are Made Of was published by Simon & Schuster in 2015.

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Leann Garms

Media Motivator at Build.Buzz.Launch

As a 25-year veteran of public relations, trained in Journalism, Leann loves a great story. Whether it’s a book, a nonprofit cause or a new business venture, she uncovers the unique story that motivates the media to pay attention. Her clients have included authors, speakers, film festivals, theaters and environmental nonprofits who have been featured in national radio, TV and print including Larry King Live, CNN, Biography Magazine and over 1500 radio and TV shows nationwide, and print as far as India. She is a proponent of online PR and virtual press kits as a method to raise profiles, increase SEO, gain media attention and position clients as experts in their field.

A serial entrepreneur, Leann has owned her own public relations firm, served as Founder and Vice President of The Wentworth Group, a consulting firm to nonprofits, and most recently formed the Book PR and Marketing firm, Build.Buzz.Launch. Media to accelerate brands for authors and speakers. After seeing a need to help authors navigate the paths to publishing, BBL Publishing was launched in July of 2014. This hybrid publishing imprint of BBL Media publishes and markets a select handful of titles in the Health, Wellness and Spirituality genres. Now, Leann gets to read great stories every day and help tell the world about them.

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Melanie Gorman

SEO Specialist & Marketing Manager for small business owners at YourTango.com

Melanie’s early career started as a counselor in private practice. Her interest in publishing led her to work with John Gray, author of Men Are From Mars, Women are from Venus beginning in 2002. Today she’s the SVP with YourTango.com, a digital publishing company focused on healthy relationships, life, and love.

As YourTango’s resident “expert on the experts”, Melanie’s expertise in SEO bridges her specialization in human psychology with her love of the written word. She helps counselors, coaches, and small business owners to understand how to market their services in ways that drive traffic and create raving fans. YourTango’s exclusive “membership community” brings together helping professionals which Melanie and her team teach how to market their business in simple, powerful ways. All of which starts with good communication and intelligent SEO to drive traffic, leads, and sales to the businesses YourTango supports.

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Sarah Cogan

Film Designer, sarahcogan.com, IMDb

Sarah Cogan is a film designer with over 16 years of experience helping up-and-coming filmmakers realize their creative vision without busting their budget. She has taken her experience designing costumes, sets, and lighting for theater, indie film, network television, and major motion pictures and combined it with her experience and training as a director and actor to create a digestible and replicable system that will allow you to thrive creatively and become the filmmaker others aspire to be. She is passionate about making these tools available to filmmakers who are looking to up-level their craft, so I'm sharing everything I know to give YOU the boost you need in your projects and your career. She's the creator of the course: From Text to Moving Images and the workshop Art of the Lookbook, which guides filmmakers through the process of crafting their lookbooks.

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Ben Pelteson

Public Speaking Coach and Story Doula at Fearless Communicators

Ben Pelteson is a Public Speaking Coach and Story Doula who uses 15+ years of experience as a professional stage and screen actor to help global thought leaders tell a more powerful story about their work out loud. He has appeared in lead and supporting roles with many of the US’s top classical acting companies as well as onscreen (Homeland, The Americans, Law & Order, The Blacklist, and StartUp among others.) Ben is the former National Outreach Director for Broadway Impact, an organization of theater artists and fans mobilized in support of marriage equality, and was co-Curator of the first ever Daedalus Film Fest in Ashland, OR. As Lead Facilitator at Fearless Communicators, his public speaking clients include entrepreneurs, C-suite executives, coaches, founders, and bestselling authors on 3 continents. For more info, visit www.fearlesscommunicators.com.

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Jill Michelle Williams

Jill Michelle Williams is a working television producer and writer who has created content for Broadcast Networks (NBC’s Biggest Loser), Streamers (HBO Max Ellen’s Next Great Designer), and Cable Networks (Lifetime’s Project Runway All Stars and A&E’s Confession of a Serial Killer: BTK).

She began her television career in news. After covering the back and forth on the Bush-Gore Presidential election, she became disheartened about this medium so, she relocated to Los Angeles (where she knew two people) and networked her butt off. It took six months of perseverance until she was offered three entry-level positions in one week. She felt like she had hit the jackpot!

She took a production assistant position in development at the now-defunct style network. As she learned the craft of making television, she worked her way up the ranks and transitioned over to style’s sister network E! Entertainment Television, which allowed her to work on all facets of production from pre-production to production through post-production and mastering.

Throughout the years, she's created more than 200 hours of content across unscripted specials, competition shows, as well as documentary and scripted series including a stint as Head of Development.

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Deborah J. Whitcas

Deborah J. Whitcas is a two-time Emmy winning Supervising Producer and part-time Sports Journalist who has worked in docu-reality and non-fiction programming for over two decades. She began her entertainment career in-front of the camera at age twelve in her hometown of Philadelphia, PA and has since has produced highly rated national/international primetime and daytime shows for ABC, CBS, FOX, MGM, CW, Universal, HGTV, WE, Style/E! Entertainment and MTV Networks. Her most recent Producing venture has been the launch of the successful ABC primetime show “Judge Steve Harvey.” The premiere episode garnered a .8 rating with over 5.2 million viewers.

When not on a set, in an edit bay or in a sports stadium, Deborah enjoys spending time with her menagerie of rescue pets, dancing, pilates and relaxing on the beach with friends. Deb believes smiling is the key to happiness and she tries to do it as much as humanly possible!

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Tricia Brouk

International Award-Winning Director, Founder of The Big Talk Academy, Author at https://triciabrouk.com/

Tricia Brouk is an international award-winning director. She founded The Big Talk Academy and was the executive producer of TEDxLincolnSquare. She curates the Speaker Salon in NYC, hosts The Big Talk an award-winning podcast, and her book, The Influential Voice: Saying What You Mean For Lasting Legacy was #1 pre- order new release on Amazon. Tricia was awarded Top Director of 2019 by the International Association of Top Professionals and Top Ten Speaker Coaches in Yahoo Finance in 2021 and the Empowered Women Award in 2021 by the IOATP and Awarded Most Influential Leader in Media and Production by Corporate Vision in 2022 along with being featured on the cover of Brainz Magazine. Her documentaries have received critical acclaim—winning numerous awards including Best Documentary Short at The Olympus Film Festival and Los Angeles Movie Awards.

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Vincent Zandri

Vincent Zandri is the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Overall No. 1 bestselling ITW Thriller and PWA Shamus Award winning author of more than 60 novels and novellas including Moonlight Weeps, The Shroud Key, and The Remains. A freelance writer and traveler, you can find him at www.vinzandri.com

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Tom Avitabile

Multi #1 Best-Selling Author

Tom Avitabile, former Senior V.P./Creative Director at a New York advertising firm, is a writer, director, and producer with numerous film and television credits. He has an extensive background in engineering and computers, including work on projects for the House Committee on Science and Technology, which helped lay the foundation for “The Eighth Day,” his first novel. The subsequent series had two #1 bestsellers including his latest number one, “Give Us This Day” which hit #1 twice, is being released in audio By Podium. And the 5th installment featuring his kick-ass, female agent, Brooke Burrell, “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” is ready for fall 2021 release by The Story Plant. His dark psycho-sexual thriller, “The Devil’s Quota,” also achieved # 1. Tom recently became the narrator and producer of the upcoming audiobook, “Ultimate Betrayal” by Joe Badal, released through Blackstone Audio. In his spare time, Tom is a professional musician and an amateur woodworker.
TomAvitabile.wordpress.com

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Michael Roderick

Broadway Theater Producer at Small Pond Enterprises

Michael Roderick was a producer with R2D2 Productions on the Tony Nominated Broadway Production of The Scottsboro Boys. He also served as an Associate Producer of the Off Broadway musical Rooms a Rock Romance at New World Stages. Michael has been the program director for Self-Producing Artists at Theater Resources Unlimited as well as a graduate of the Commercial Theatre Institute’s 14-week Program as well as the Six-week Creative Intensive Program. Michael holds a BA in Secondary Ed English and Theatre Performance from Rhode Island College as well as a Masters in Educational Theatre for Colleges and Communities from NYU. He also is a published playwright, the founder of a conference for connnectors called ConnectorCon, and an entrepreneur.

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Jack DePalma

Broadway Theater Consultant/Developer at PlaywrightTherapy.com

JACK DePALMA is a creative consultant for both new musicals and plays as packager, dramaturg and developer. He is especially interested in working with owners of intellectual property who want to translate their property as a play or musical.

He created Playwright Therapy to share his expertise on a personal level with writers who can benefit from weekly sessions crafted to their particular needs. Plays that have been developed through Playwright Therapy have been semi-finalists for the O'Neill Festival and the DVRF Playwrights Program.

Recently, he was creative consultant on the new musical Fat Kid Rules the World which had a developmental workshop production at UC Davis in September. He was also creative consultant on the new musical, Rose's War which played the Rave Festival last year.

He has also been the Play Development Director at the Old Globe in SanDiego where he helped plan the Globe's seasons. Among the productions were Matthew Lopez' The Whipping Man, Duncan Sheik’s Whisper House, Leslie Bricusse’s Sammy, and the musicals The First Wives Club and Robin and the 7 Hoods.

Prior to that, Jack was the Creative Director for the National Arts Management Company where he was involved in the Broadway productions of Chicago, Annie Get Your Gun, Seussical, Wonderful Town, Sweet Charity, and This is Our Youth. In addition, he was instrumental in the development of musical adaptations of Clueless, The Band Wagon, and The Opposite of Sex.

Jack has also screened applicants for The Dramatist's Guild, the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, the Quinn Foundation, and has served on the NAMT selection committee.

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Bethany Marshall

Publishing Director at Morgan James Publishing

Bethany Marshall has played an integral role in the success of Morgan James Publishing, working closely with the company since 2008. An entrepreneur at heart, Bethany has worked with thousands of authors, and is passionate about working with authors who have a powerful message to share. Bethany helps Morgan James’ authors smoothly navigate the publishing process to ensure a final product that fully represents them and their vision. Bethany recognizes that the landscape of publishing is rapidly changing and enjoys finding innovative approaches to continue growth both for Morgan James and for our authors.

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Peter Rubie

Literary Agent and CEO, FinePrint Literary Management

Peter Rubie specializes in a broad range of high-quality fiction and non-fiction. In non-fiction he specializes in narrative non-fiction, popular science, spirituality, history, biography, pop culture, business and technology, parenting, health, self help, music, and food. He is a “sucker” for outstanding writing. In fiction he represents literate thrillers, crime fiction, science fiction and fantasy, military fiction and literary fiction, middle grade and some boy oriented young adult fiction.

Rubie is a former BBC Radio and Fleet Street journalist and for several years was the director of the publishing section of the New York University Summer Publishing Institute. He was a member of the NYU faculty for 10 years, and taught the only university-level course in the country on how to become a literary agent. Prior to becoming an agent he was a publishing house editor for nearly six years, whose authors won prizes and critical acclaim. He has also been the editor-in-chief of a Manhattan local newspaper, and a freelance editor and book doctor for major publishers. He was a regular reviewer for the international trade magazinePublishers Weekly, and is a published author of both fiction and non-fiction. He is a member of AAR, and regularly lectures and writes on publishing and the craft of writing, and was once a professional jazz musician.

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Eduardo Placer

Story Doula, Keynote Speaker, and Global Community Builder at Fearless Communicators

Eduardo Placer is a Story Doula, Keynote Speaker, and Global Community Builder. He is the CEO and Founder of Fearless Communicators. Clients include HBO, Google, Bank of America- Merrill Lynch, Yale, The Juilliard School, and the Wharton School of Business. Private clients include Presidential Candidates, UN Diplomats, Industry Leaders, Founders, and social activists. He was a professional actor for 15 years, working all over the country in over 38 plays and musicals. Eduardo has a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA in Acting from University of California, San Diego. He suffers from an acute condition called SHOWTUNITIS and may spontaneously erupt into song.

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Maria C. Miles

Entertainment Attorney at Maria C. Miles

Maria C. Miles is the founding partner of an entertainment law firm with offices in New York. Ms. Miles’ practice focuses on all areas of entertainment and media law including, film (both documentary and feature), music, literary publishing, fashion, sports and new media. She serves as Co-Chair of the Entertainment & Media practice and is Of Counsel to Berlandi, Nussbaum & Reitzas, LLP, a full service law firm that offers a wide variety of legal expertise, including general corporate, banking & structured finance, litigation, tax and intellectual property.

Most recently, Maria was general counsel for a multi-media and digital start-up working on a diverse range of subject-matter areas including corporate and financing transactions, technology development and licensing, employment, and intellectual property (including trademarks, copyrights and patents) both in the US and abroad. Prior to her role as in-house counsel, Maria was associated with Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and Rudolph & Beer, LLP, where she served as counsel to numerous award-winning actors, writers, producers, television hosts and multi-platinum recording artists, sports teams, and corporations in the fashion and retail industries related to their entertainment and intellectual property matters.

Maria received her J.D. degree from Western New England University School of Law in 1998 and her undergraduate degree from Muhlenberg College in 1995. Maria is admitted to practice in the State of New York, The United States District Court, Eastern & Southern Districts of New York, and The United States Supreme Court.

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Aaron H. Pierce

Entertainment Attorney & Litigator Pierce & Kwok LLP

Aaron H. Pierce is a highly sought after business attorney and litigator with a deep and diverse corporate and litigation background. Mr. Pierce represents clients in connection with a wide range of corporate, financing and entrepreneurial transactions with a particular focus in the entertainment industry especially as regards film, music, and social media. Mr. Pierce advises clients on issues in connection with company formation, general contract matters, corporate governance, employment matters, applications for tax-exempt status, private offerings, and compliance with securities regulations. Mr. Pierce also represents hundreds of clients in the hospitality industry, including bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels, and is highly experienced in State Liquor Authority application and compliance issues and actions.

Mr. Pierce routinely prepares and negotiates intellectual property agreements (including license, coexistence, and website agreements). He also is experienced in intellectual property litigation, including matters connected with trademarks, copyrights, right of publicity and anti-counterfeiting.

In addition to Mr. Pierce’s corporate transactional practice, he also regularly represents clients in a wide variety of commercial litigations in both state and federal court. Mr. Pierce has had first-chair and second-chair responsibilities in litigations for several different clients including bench and jury trials in both state and federal court. He is known to colleagues and clients alike as a focused and thoughtful litigator.

Aaron was selected for inclusion in New York Super Lawyers – Rising Stars Edition, Thomson Reuters, 2015-2019, and was also included in New York Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, for 2015-2022. Aaron regularly teaches Entrepreneurial and Entertainment Law seminars and classes, and is a faculty member at the National Academy of Continuing Legal Education, The Marino Institute of Continuing Legal Education, and Parsons School of Design.

Mr. Pierce has been intrinsically involved in the entertainment industry in New York City for 25 years, and represents some of the largest venues and concert promoters in the country, provides counsel throughout many segments of the entertainment industry, including film, music, theater, and publishing, and serves as general counsel to several NYC-based artist management companies. Mr. Pierce also provides consulting services to up-and-coming artists, artist managers, art galleries, independent labels, film producers, and art curators.

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Mark DeGasperi

Author and Producer

Mark DeGasperi has been a writer, lecturer and professional story analyst in New York for many years. He has read and scouted screenplays, plays and books for film and TV adaptation, currently for Sony Pictures Entertainment, Tribeca Productions, LBI Entertainment, Centropolis Entertainment and the Johnson Production Group. He has also covered potential movie and TV material for Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, New Line Cinema, the William Morris Agency (WME), International Creative Management (ICM Partners), and past companies like Miramax Films, Jonathan Demme's Clinica Estetico and Stanley Jaffe`s Jaffilms. He teaches Advanced Film and Television Writing at New York University-SPS. He has received an NYU Award for Service. He has taught the Master Class in Screenwriting at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He is Associate Producer on the award-winning eco-documentary RESCUING THE STOLEN RIVER. He is the author of THE LAZARUS EXPERIMENT of 2020.

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Regina Brooks

CEO at the Serendipity Literary Agency

Regina Brooks is the CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC, and formerly held senior editorial positions at John Wiley and Sons and McGraw-Hill. She is the author of three books Never Finished, Never Done, Writing Great Books for Young Adults, You Should Really Write A Book: How to Write, Sell, and Market Your Memoir, and is on the faculty of the Harvard University publishing program  and several Low residency programs.  Serendipity Literary Agency clients have received many notable awards including National Book Award, Newbery, Michael Printz, and Caldecott honor, NAACP Image Award and Edgar Award and a host of others.   She was named Woman of the Year by The National Association of Professional Women, and a two-time winner of the StevieTM Award for Women Entrepreneurs.  Regina Brooks has been  featured in books such as The Guide to Literary Agents and the NAACP nominated  Down to Business 10 steps for Women Entrepreneurs, How to Build a Platform and Bill Dukes: Dark Girls. She is on the board of Grub Street Literary Council, National Book Foundation Jr Committee, a member of the Association of Author Representatives, the Authors Guild of America, and New York Women in Film and Television.  She is the Executive Director of YB Literary Foundation, the Founder of Open Lens Publishing Imprint and CEO of  Possibiliteas tea company .  She is also the cofounder of Brooklyn Aviation a private flying club.   Prior to her publishing career she worked as an aerospace engineer and made history as the first African American woman to receive a bachelor’s of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering from The Ohio State University.  She is a graduate of The School of the Arts High School in Rochester, NY.  She currently resides in Brooklyn NY.